In the first episode of Mad Men: Season 2, the Emmy-winning series' main character, Dan Draper, is seen reading Meditations in an Emergency, a collection of poetry by Frank O'Hara. The last episode of the season is titled "Meditations in an Emergency" and takes place at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
The poem Draper reads in a voice-over is called Mayakovsky. Its first stanza:
"Now I am quietly waiting for/ the catastrophe of my personality/ to seem beautiful again,/ and interesting, and modern."
Draper (played with great skill by Jon Hamm) is a junior partner in a high-powered New York ad agency and filled with contradictions, including a suspect past, so it's conceivable that he would be attracted to the poems of O'Hara, who died in 1966 at age 40. The poet, who as a gay man was under his own social constraints, explored his love of music, art, freedom and life itself in his works. He was just the opposite of Draper, who is trapped in a suburban life that he hates and, ironically, that he has helped create with ad campaigns designed to make people feel unhappy with their lives if they don't buy, buy, buy.
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Mad Men is smartly staged and produced, with a terrific cast, particularly January Jones as Draper's wife, Betty. And the AMC series, which returns in August, is only likely to get better as it faces a changing culture.
Season 2 is $49.98 on DVD or Blu-ray.